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First Impression: Factory Billet Bullet

Walking the docks yesterday at the Camden on the Lake Resort—the host venue for this weekend’s annual Super Cat Fest—in Central Missouri, Jason Johnson and I spotted Factory Billet, a 51-foot Outerlimits canopied V-bottom. The boat was built in 2008 and originally powered by Mercury Racing 1075 SCi engines with No. 6 drives, but we’d been told that owner Jim Schultz of Zurich, Ill., had not just completely renovated the well-known sportboat but had been working with Mike Faucher to develop state-of-the-art systems such as automatic (but override-able) drive and tab trim control, as well as automatic shifting for the 51-footer’s three-speed transmission.

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Slated to compete in the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout tomorrow, the 51-foot Factory Billet Outerlimits V-bottom will be the subject of an extensive feature in the next Speed On The Water digital magazine issue (click image to enlarge).

Built from scratch by Factory Billet Power, the boat’s 10-litre turboharged V-8 engines make 1,650 hp to 1,950 hp depending on fuel (93 octane for the lower output and E85/E90 for the maximum), Schultz told us, with no manual adjustments to the engines required thanks to their computer control modules. The V-bottom’s Mercury Racing No. 6 drives are set up with 1.24:1 gear ratios and 37-1/2-inch Hering propellers.

Schultz, who plans to run the boat in the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout tomorrow, invited us back for a quick ride today. Johnson opted to man the Speedonthewater.com promotional trailer at Captain Ron’s Lakeside Bar and Grill, the official Lake of the Ozarks Shootout headquarters, so I headed to Camden on the Lake to take up Schultz on his offer. And out we went to the choppy waters of the Lake of the Ozarks.

Conditions and boat traffic were far from ideal for high-speed running, but Schultz did blip the throttles and in short order, as I felt the boat shift gears and watched the numbers change on the monitor ahead of my seat, we’re running 110 mph. Running from idle speed to that number beyond the century mark, he never touched the manual trim buttons for the drives or tabs.

The 51-footer didn’t accelerate—it jumped. The initial jolt and subsequent pull were breathtaking. The last time I felt a boat accelerate that hard was four years ago with John Tomlinson and Mike D’Anniballe in a 36-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran powered by 1,700-hp Sterling Performance engines on—as it happened—the Lake of the Ozarks.

Today’s ride was the first step in building what will be an extensive and comprehensive Speed On The Water digital magazine feature on not just the Factory Billet Outerlimits test bed but on the entire Factory Billet Power program (you can learn more now on the company’s recently redesigned website), and I’m looking forward to learning a whole lot more about it. I’m looking forward even more to taking another ride in the boat.

Related story: Coverage of the 2017 Lake of the Ozarks Shootout